Gray weather Sunday may have kept the tractors at bay, but it didn’t dampen The Emmanuel Union United Church of Christ’s Blessing of the Tractors.
What originally started as a joke, interim Pastor Leigh Pick said, has become a regular event at the Tusseyville church, inspired by similar events across the country.
“We were talking about all the things we bless,” Pick said, “and one of the older members said we ought to bless the tractors.”
After researching the concept online, the church discovered the practice is popular in the Midwest, she said. Entire communities will bring their tractors and combines out as a celebration of farming.
The church parking lot was filled with tractors last year — the first year they tried blessing farm equipment, she said. Rain on Sunday prevented the congregation from bringing their vehicles out for the event, but the spirit of farming was alive in the church as toy tractors filled the sanctuary.
The morning service revolved around the land, as Pick explained that the idea of blessing farming has a long history. In medieval times, the blessing was called “rogation,” from the French word meaning “to beseech.”
“Farmers are the stewards of our Earth and allow us to continue to have the quality of life we’ve all grown to live with,” she said.
Pick read Paul Harvey’s 1978 “So God Made A Farmer” speech, which gained new life in a 2013 Super Bowl commercial. Because there were no tractors on hand, Pick blessed one of the toy tractors as well as a bowl of soil and several packets of seeds.
Agriculture dominates the Potter Township area, township farmer Ed Wasson said, adding that nearly 90 percent of the township is dedicated to farmland. Wasson himself tends to about 800 acres and 125 dairy cows with his three sons.
Wasson also provided the toy tractors throughout the church, saying he’s been collecting them for many years.
Resident Mary Frier said the area is able to provide good quality food thanks to the local Karst geology, which provides quality earth resulting in healthier plants and animals and adds more nutrition than a factory farm.
Our farmers should be justly proud of what they do.
Mary Frier, resident
“Our farmers should be justly proud of what they do,” she said, “because it’s all great products.”